BY PATIENCE OGBO
May 11, 2011 10:14AM
The Nigerian Navy has acquired three combat (mantra) boats to protect the nation’s territorial waters.
The three high speed boats were operated on Tuesday at the Naval base, Apapa, Lagos. The vessels were fitted with high calibre arms and ammunition and have the capacity to chase and overtake sea pirates and illegal oil smugglers. The Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft, Apapa, Jonathan Ango, at the launch of the vessels, said they will halt criminality in the seas, following the twin attacks on two ships, MT Dominia and MT Ocean mariner early this year.
He added that criminals on the sea will have a hard time as the Nigerian Navy is statutorily responsible to protect and preserve the country’s enormous natural deposits including installations. “You will agree with me that the mainstay of the Nigerian economy is down in the maritime environment; where we have the oil and gas which serve as the main trust and the boost to our economy,” he said. “And the Nigerian Navy which is statutorily recognized and tasked for the protection of all the resources within the maritime environment have been striving since inception to do just that. And of recent, we have had major attacks on ships by pirates which hijacked the ships, carried their products and attempted to sell them; but we were lucky and managed through our studious and effective co-ordinated approach to duties were able to arrest them and they are presently undergoing thorough investigation.”
He also stated that the Nigerian Navy is serious in ensuring zero tolerance to all form of criminal activities on the waterways adding that an end has come for sea pirates on the nation’s waterways.
“Since assumption in office, the present Chief of Naval Staff has as one of his visions to emplace a capable, well motivated navy that is capable of effectively combating maritime crimes within the Nigerian maritime domain in particular and the West African maritime environment in general to ensure the safety, comfort and progress of the Nigerian people,” he said. “In this regard, he has made giant strides towards placing a functional and effective navy one of which is the launching of the three combat boats on display today. These combat boats were procured from Vietnam and are highly capable and equipped to combat any form of maritime threat or challenge; such as piracy, bunkering, and smuggling and fishery protection.
The new acquisitions, which we call the mantra boats, are very high speed, well equipped and manoeuvrable.” The new boats will patrol Lagos waters but would also be employed in the Niger Delta and the eastern regions to complement the efforts of those already deployed there.